Illustration; Source: TotalEnergies

TotalEnergies, Petrobras, SOCAR, and Sonangol join forces to curb methane footprint

French energy giant TotalEnergies has inked cooperation agreements with three national oil and gas companies – Petrobras, SOCAR, and Sonangol – to carry out methane detection and measurement campaigns using its Airborne Ultralight Spectrometer for Environmental Applications (AUSEA) technology on oil and gas facilities in Brazil, Azerbaijan, and Angola.

Illustration; Source: TotalEnergies

TotalEnergies revealed the signing of these three agreements during the ‘Eliminating Methane Emissions by 2030’ roundtable partnered by the COP28 Presidency. This shows the four players’ commitment to identify, quantify, and reduce methane emissions while encouraging the entire oil and gas industry to aim for zero methane emissions by 2030. The French giant believes that slashing down methane emissions is “a quick win” in the battle against climate change.

Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies, commented: “The COP28 Presidency counts on the mobilization of all the major industrial sectors of the global economy to ensure the success of this conference. For the oil & gas industry, cutting methane emissions from operations is a priority as technologies are available. The first step is to measure emissions, asset by asset. By making our AUSEA technology available to our partners, TotalEnergies is taking a concrete step to encourage the whole industry, including national companies, to aim for zero methane emissions.”

Currently, the drone-mounted AUSEA gas analyser, developed by TotalEnergies and its R&D partners: CNRS and the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, is perceived to be one of the most accurate technologies in the world to detect and measure methane emissions. AUSEA consists of a miniature dual sensor capable of detecting methane and carbon dioxide emissions, while at the same time identifying their source on all types of industrial facilities, whether onshore or offshore.

TotalEnergies halved its methane emissions from its operated sites between 2010 and 2020. However, the French player has also set ambitious targets to step up its efforts and cut methane emissions by a further 50% by 2025 – aiming to reach this target a year early, in 2024 – and by 80% in 2030, compared to 2020. To this end, the firm carried out a global campaign to measure methane emissions from its upstream-operated activities last year using the AUSEA technology.

Furthermore, the company, which is committed to promoting the United Nations Oil and Gas Methane Partnership (OGMP 2.0) framework with other national and international oil companies, has held the OGMP Gold standard status for three years in a row. TotalEnergies is convinced that cooperation between NOCs and IOCs is key to achieving massive methane abatement across the industry.

Therefore, the French giant is now expanding its AUSEA initiative beyond its operated assets, thanks to the three cooperation agreements signed with Petrobras in Brazil, SOCAR in Azerbaijan, and Sonangol in Angola, which aim to carry out AUSEA drone-based emissions measurement campaigns on facilities they operate and demonstrate concrete steps taken to mobilize the oil and gas industry toward zero methane emissions.

Multi-million donation to Global Flaring and Methane Reduction trust fund

During COP28, TotalEnergies also decided to back the World Bank’s Global Flaring and Methane Reduction (GFMR) trust fund with a donation of $25 million over 2024-2030. This fund aims to unlock financing mechanisms and technical solutions to boost global efforts to end routine gas flaring and slash methane emissions to the greatest extent possible along the entire oil and gas value chain by providing technical assistance, enabling policy and regulatory reform, strengthening institutions, and mobilizing finance to support action by governments and oil and gas operators.

Pouyanné explained: “Methane is key in the fight against climate change this decade. At COP27, I called on all oil & gas companies, national and international, to join the OGMP 2.0 and work toward zero methane emissions. At COP28, 50 companies representing 40% of global oil production have embarked on the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter pledge: the momentum is there and TotalEnergies is proud to be a signatory of this charter.

“Building on the legacy of our successful support of the World Bank’s ‘Zero Routine flaring’ initiative, I am glad that TotalEnergies is renewing and increasing its support with its contribution to this new ambitious GFMR trust fund. TotalEnergies was the first international company to answer positively to the World Bank call for funding as we are confident that this program will allow concrete actions with real and significant effects on methane emissions reduction.”

Over 60% of the signatories of the decarbonization charter, representing more than 40% of global oil production, are NOCs and the rest are IOCs. This is said to be the largest-ever number of NOCs to commit to a decarbonization initiative. Among other things, the signatories agreed to invest in the energy system of the future including renewables, low-carbon fuels, and negative emissions technologies along with increasing transparency, covering enhancing measurement, monitoring, reporting, and independent verification of greenhouse gas emissions and their performance and progress in reducing these emissions.

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Demetrios Papathanasiou, Global Director of the World Bank’s Energy and Extractives Global Practice, remarked: “Taking quick and decisive action on methane emissions could avoid as much as 0.1 degrees C of warming by mid-century – equivalent to zeroing out the emissions of every car and truck in the world. With GFMR we will support countries with the least capacity and resources to address methane emissions, while also leveraging billions of dollars of private sector finance.”